A few months ago I decided that I need to change my eyeglasses. I chose Ralph Lauren’s Polo 2043 in black color. If I hadn’t bought them then, I would have bought them now. Why? Because I’ve recently watched Tom Ford‘s movie A Single Man. One of the highlights of Ford’s debut were glasses worn by lead actor Colin Firth.
A Single Man is the story of George Falconer (Firth), a middle-aged gay British university professor living in Los Angeles in 1962. Falconer has struggled to find meaning in his life since the car accident killed his long-time partner, Jim (Matthew Goode), eight months earlier. Throughout the single day depicted in the film, and narrated from his point of view, George dwells on his past, shown in flashbacks, and his seemingly empty future, as he prepares for his planned suicide that evening (Source: Wikipedia).
The film places emphasis on the clothes and architecture of the 1960s and the production design is by the same team that designed the TV series Mad Men, which is set in the same era. The most impressive aspect of A Single Man is its cinematic beauty. Everything from the design of the sets, clothes, actors to the colors used to portray the gloomy and happy moments of George’s life is spectacular. A Single Man is an aesthetic masterpiece.
Costumes for the movie were designed by Arianne Phillips. But George’s suits were manufactured by Tom Ford in his factory in Italy. Tom Ford once explained that he created a back story for George’s suit based on the George character. He decided that George would have had his suit custom made on Saville Row on a trip home to England. He also decided that, since ‘old-school’ British people of wealth tend to be thrifty with clothing, that his suit was a few years old. Ford even went as far as putting a label on the inside of the suit with his name and the date that it was made for him (1957). (Source: The 44 Diaries)
Back to the glasses. You might expect that Firth’s glasses were designed by Tom Ford (his latest lines coincidentally echo the look of the 60s). You’re wrong. Despite loving chunky frames Tom Ford wasn’t responsible for Colin’s glasses in the movie. He didn’t design them nor picked them. It was all Colin’s work.
Firth said that he found them in a props box. They were genuine antiques. Firth admitted: “… and they just were cool and they went with the hair and the whole rest of the look. So I picked them up, put them on, said “well maybe for reading.” Ford then let him wear them for a couple of scenes and he warmed to them as the shooting went along. There are additional screen captures of Firth’s glasses from the movie at my Flickr page.
I was expecting a visually stunning movie but I was positively surprised with brilliant acting by Colin Firth (it has to be his best work so far) and with the effort that Ford put in the movie. Even though it’s a simple and short plot, it’s full of small details and the whole story of love, isolation and sorrow worked well. And it has one of the best stylings and the best eyeglasses in recent years.
Some additional thoughts on the movie:
- When George and Kenny (one of his students) went for a skinny dipping I instantly remembered the old R.E.M. song Nightswimming. It’s about remembering the ‘good old days’ in the 50’s and 60’s when skinny dipping was a part of US folklore. The song is also a metaphor for unprotected sex in the pre-AIDS time, but could also be about Michael Stipe’s homosexuality, with nightswimming being the term he uses for ‘cruising’. You can watch the video at AOL Music’s website.
- At the last Academy Awards Colin Firth (who was nominated for Best Actor) wore Tom Ford’s tuxedo. He also showed off the label inside the tux: “Tom Ford for Colin Firth”. Great stuff!
- Tom Ford and his partner Richard Buckley (the former Editor in Chief of Vogue Hommes International) currently have two fox terriers (Angus and India) and both appeared in the movie.
- Tom Ford’s sunglasses have some notable appearances in the movies – the most famous was in the last James Bond movie Quantum of Solace. Since GoldenEye, Bond has usually worn Persol sunglasses, but in Quantum of Solace he’s chosen Tom Ford’s model 108.